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Urakami CathedralUrakami Cathedral, located 500 meters north of the hypocenter. It was once renowned for being the largest Roman Catholic church in the East but was completely demolished by the nuclear blast. Now you can see the headless statues of the saints, the bell tower that was blown off by the atomic bomb and a wooden figure of the Virgin Mary which miraculously survived the heat of the nuclear blast.
In 1895, with the assistance of Fr. Pierre Fraineau MEP, the Christian faithful began the construction of Urakami Cathedral on the land o the former village headman, the very place where the custom of trampling on a Christian image (e-bumi), had been enforced as a way to expose hidden Christians.
In 1914, a ceremony was held to bless the church and dedicated it to the Virgin Mary. However, just 30 years later, on August 9th, 1945, the church was devastated by the atomic bomb. Nevertheless, on Christmas Eve that year, the survivors rang the church bell that they dug out of the ruins, and went on to rebuilt the church.
The new reinforced concrete building was completed in 1959, and an outer layer of bricks was added in 1980.
In 1962, meanwhile, the new Urakami church replaced Oura Catholic Church as the Cathedral of the Nagasaki Archdiocese.
The following monuments can be seen today in the precincts:
- The Atomic-Bombed Statue of Mary
- The Fallen Bell Tower: The original church had twin bell towers. One was crushed by the atomic explosion, another was blown about 25 meters away by the blast. It is preserved as National Important Asset at the original site.
- Headless Statues of Saints: Stone statues that were exposed to the atomic bombing.
- The Monument of Faith: Commemorating the 50th anniversary of Urakami Yonban Kuzure (the fourth collapse of the Christian community of Urakami resulting from the government's drastic policy of oppression and expulsion.)
Christian’s Cave and the ‘Eye of the Needle’ It is said that during the repression of Christianity during the Meiji Era, believers lived in hiding in this cave. A 4-meter tall cross and a 3.6-meter statue of Jesus were built in 1967. Even now the cave is only accessible by boat.
Tabira ChurchThe church was designed by Tetsukawa Yosuke, a famous architect of various churches in Nagasaki Prefecture, and built between December 1915 and October 1917. It is one of the latest brick churches in the prefecture of Nagasaki. Tetsukawa Yosuke has called this one of his best works.
St. Francis Xavier Memorial Church, a view of a Christian Church and Japanese TemplesConstructed in 1913 as the Hirado Catholic Church, it was relocated to its present site in 1931. The statue of St. Francis was erected in 1971 to to honour the missionary’s visit to Hirado in 1550, and the church later given its present name.
An exotic view of a Japanese temples with this church from a street down to the town was described by the Lonly Planet as "one of the most photogenic vantage points in all of Khushu."
Dozaki ChurchThis is the oldest church in the Goto islands, and it was built by French missionaries. It now serves a museum displaying historical documents relating to Christians and the 300-year period of suppression of Christianity. It was designated as a Tangible Cultural Asset of Nagasaki Prefecture in 1974.
Kashiragashima ChurchKashiragashima ChurchThis sandstone church, a rare sight in Japan, was built by Christians returning to the islands after the period of persecution, from stones they quarried themselves. The church is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan and is part of the “Churches and Christian Sites in Nagasaki” bid for designation as a World Heritage Site.
Kuroshima ChurchKuroshima Island is the largest of the Kujukushima islands. Two months after the discovery of the hidden Christians in Oura Cathedral in 1865, 20 representatives of the hidden Christians visited Father Petitjean in Oura to confess their faith. Subsequently, Father Poirier read the first mass in Kuroshima Island at the house of Daikichi Deguchi, one of the representatives. By 1873, Kuroshima had become an "island of Catholic." Kuroshima Church was constructed through the endeavors of Father Marman, with the self-sacrificing cooperation of the local laypeople. They carried bricks and other necessary materials by themselves, climbing up the steep slope from the beach.The interior of this church is magnificent, with arcades, triforia and clerestory. Kuroshima Church is unique in that Arita porcelain tiles, granite quarried in Kuroshima and other local materials are used.
Former Nokubi ChurchIn the Nozaki Island, located in the north of the Goto Islands, there used to be two Christian communities, called "Nokubi" and "Setozaki." In spite of the poverty due to the mountainous area and infertile soil, both communities built wooden churches. Eventually, 18 Christian families began constructing a brick church. Through their endeavors and enthusiasm, Nokubi Church was completed. It was designed and constructed by Yosuke Tetsukawa, and it was the first brick church for him. However, after Japan entered the period of rapid economic growth, more and more people left the island. By 1971, all the residents had gone out of Nozaki Island. On the now uninhabited island, Nokubi Church soon deteriorated. However, the church was restored and repaired by the government of Ojika Town, in which the church is located.
Imochiura Church and LourdesThis church was constructed under the direction of French missionary Father Peroud. Located near the church is the first Lourdes grotto in Japan, which was built in response to Father Peroud’s exhortation, and modeled after the Massabielle Grotto in Lourdes in the south of France.
Aosagaura ChurchThe Aosagaura area was settled by Christians from Sotome, who battled harsh living conditions and severe oppression until the ban on Christianity was lifted in 1873. In 1878, they were finally able to build their church, taking charge of missionary work in the whole upper-Goto region. In 1910, a third church building, designed by Tetsukawa Yosuke, reached completion thanks to the hard work of the parishioners, young and old, male and female, who dedicated themselves to tasks such as carrying bricks from boats on the shore uphill to the construction site.
Tetsukawa Yosuke had taken part in the construction of Dozaki Church as an apprentice.
In 2001, Aosagaura Church was designated a national cultural asset.
Egami ChurchFacing the Naru Strait, Egami Church stands on the coast surrounded by a grove of trees. In 1918, the descendants of settlers cooperated to build the church, under the design and surveillance of Tetsukawa Yosuke.
Thanks to funds raised by that year’s abundant fish haul, the construction reached a level of perfection rarely seen among wooden churches in Japan.
Nakamachi ChurchDedicated to the 16 Martyrs of Nagasaki, this church is located close to JR Nagasaki Station, and the 26 Martyrs site on Nishizaki Hill.
The first Nakamachi Church was built in 1896 using funds donated by an anonymous French person, to commemorate the 330th anniversary of the deaths of the 26 Martyrs and as dedication to the Blessed Virgin Mary.
The church was destroyed by the atomic bomb in 1945, but was rebuilt by parishioners in 1951.
In 1988, a monuments to the16 Martyrs was constructed in a garden at this church. Cardinal Jaime Sin of Manila attended the unveiling ceremony for the monument, in recognition of Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint.
In 2015, the little Japanese garden and the monuments to the 16 saints were refurbished to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the “Discovery of the Christians”.